MICHELL, Barnard (-d.1647), of Maiden Street, Melcombe Regis, Dorset

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Family and Education

1st s. of Henry Michell of Weymouth, Dorset, merchant and his w. Elizabeth. ?unm. suc. fa. c.1594.1 bur. 25 Mar. 1647.2 sig. Barnard Michell.

Offices Held

Member, Virg. Co. 1609.3

Bailiff, Weymouth 1609-10, 1618-19,4 alderman 1616-d.5


The Michell family was already well established at Melcombe Regis by 1554, when it first provided the town with a Member of Parliament.6 Michell’s father became collector of petty customs there by 1579, but latterly settled in Weymouth, which now formed a single borough with Melcombe Regis.7 Like his forbears, Michell was a merchant. By 1608 he was trading with France, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland and the Baltic, mainly in foodstuffs, while in the following year he invested in the Virginia Company.8 While serving as a Weymouth bailiff in 1610, he was returned to Parliament after Robert White was discharged on the grounds of ill health. His performance was evidently deemed to be satisfactory, for he was re-elected in 1614, though he left no trace on the Commons’ records on either occasion.9 In 1616 he was named as an alderman in Weymouth’s new charter, though he is not known to have served as mayor.10

In around 1620 Michell leased a house in Maiden Street, Melcombe Regis from the corporation, but he was shortly in trouble with the authorities for blocking the roadway there with building materials and four pieces of ordnance.11 While this episode is unlikely to have seriously damaged his local standing, he failed to find a seat in the next two Parliaments. He also suffered the indignity in 1623 of having his claims of gentility rejected during the heralds’ visitation of Dorset.12 During his brother Henry’s first mayoralty in 1624-5, Michell managed the negotiations in London for renewal of the corporation’s farm of the petty customs at Weymouth.13 He also represented the borough before the Privy Council in February 1627, in connection with the provision of shipping for defence against Spain.14 Clearly well-trusted by his colleagues, Michell sat for Weymouth in the first two Caroline Parliaments, though once again he neither spoke in the House nor attracted any committee nominations. In 1626 he received parliamentary wages of 2s. 6d. a day.15

Michell and his brother were still trading with Spain in the mid-1620s, when they were cheated out of £300 by a Flemish merchant at Malaga. When a ship owned by the same man was impounded at Weymouth in May 1625, Henry Michell seized bullion worth £360 in lieu of this sum, but as late as August 1626 the brothers’ claim to this money had still not been upheld by the Admiralty.16 In around late 1628 Michell also ‘sustained great loss’ through a shipwreck on the Irish coast, conceivably the sinking of Sir Thomas Freke’s* vessel, the Leopard.17 He was sued in 1632 for non-payment of freight charges incurred during a voyage to Ireland and Portugal, and by January 1635 he was imprisoned in the Fleet over another debt, albeit on such relaxed terms that he was allowed to visit both the city of London and Dorset.18 Notwithstanding his financial problems, Michell continued to be employed on corporation business, petitioning the Privy Council in 1633 for action against Turkish pirates, and in around 1636 complaining about (Sir) George Horsey’s* drainage scheme near Weymouth. However, he was reprimanded in 1637 for using the borough’s lighter without paying the customary rent, which he was ordered to settle up in full.19

Michell’s movements during the next decade are unknown, but he was living in London when he drew up his will on 22 Mar. 1647. Evidently childless, he bequeathed the bulk of his property, which consisted of housing in Weymouth and a farm at Durweston, Dorset, to two cousins. He also provided small personal legacies totalling almost £300, and settled £6 6s. 8d. and an annuity of £1 13s. 4d. on Dorset paupers, along with 16 bushels of coal a year. Michell was buried three days later at St. James, Garlickhythe. Though challenged by one of his sisters, the will was upheld on 10 July 1647.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. PROB 11/85, f. 100.
  • 2. GL, ms 9139.
  • 3. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 223.
  • 4. C219/35/1/121; Dorset RO, Weymouth corp. order bk., f. 43.
  • 5. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 431.
  • 6. Dorset Tudor Muster Rolls ed. T.L. Stoate, 75; HP Commons, 1509-58, ii. 598-9.
  • 7. H.J. Moule, Docs. Bor. of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 27; PROB 11/85, f. 100.
  • 8. E190/869/6.
  • 9. C219/35/1/121.
  • 10. Hutchins, ii. 431.
  • 11. Dorset RO, Weymouth corp. order bk., f. 64; Moule, 64.
  • 12. Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 4.
  • 13. Dorset RO, Weymouth corp. order bk., f. 98.
  • 14. APC, 1627, p. 48.
  • 15. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Min. Bk. ed. M. Weinstock (Dorset Rec. Soc. i), 10. Procs. 1626, ii. 72 incorrectly states that the mayor of Weymouth summoned for contempt in February 1626 was Michell’s brother Henry.
  • 16. APC, 1626, pp. 161-2.
  • 17. Ibid. 1628-9, pp. 329, 353.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1634-5, pp. 293, 466-7; SP16/264/47.
  • 19. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Min. Bk. 24, 40; CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 323; Dorset RO, D124 (Ilchester v. Rashleigh), 38-40.
  • 20. PROB 11/200, f. 229r-v; 11/201, ff. 179v-80; SP23/220, p. 119; GL, ms 9139.